Hector Garcia: We train soldiers for war. Let's train them to come home, too
Hector A. Garcia has spent his career as a frontline psychologist delivering evidence-based psychotherapies to veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Full bio
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and got shot up in every one.
shrapnel in his body
he suffered from nightmares,
to help mitigate human suffering,
has been the suffering caused by PTSD,
just wasn't there.
and gave generic group therapy,
about your experiences."
wilderness retreats --
temporarily relieve stress,
PTSD symptoms over the long term.
that we can now eliminate PTSD,
has been able to show,
get rid of symptoms and which do not.
many of the very same training principles
in preparing its trainees for war.
since before we were even fully human.
from using stone and sinew
and devastating weapon systems imaginable.
to use these weapons,
our warriors to fight.
of the modern-day combat veteran,
have not been as good
immersed in conflict,
in our evolutionary history,
how to come home from war,
in far more peaceful societies,
we, especially in the United States,
our warriors through advanced training,
anywhere on the globe
what this must feel like.
firefight in Afghanistan
they found themselves
to their kid's soccer game.
I've heard to describe that experience.
spend countless hours training for war,
on how to return to civilian life.
PTSD treatments require repetition.
Mark-19 automatic grenade launchers
here's some ammo and good luck."
and in specific contexts,
and engaging their target
without even thinking,
conditions you can imagine.
for training base treatments.
is cognitive therapy,
of mental recalibration.
the world is calibrated
more dangerous environment.
onto a peacetime environment,
about dangers that aren't present.
dangers in civilian life; there are.
of encountering them
to turn off caution completely.
to adjust caution
in a bad neighborhood,
the actual statistical probability
here in peacetime America.
those recalibrations stick.
is exposure therapy,
effective treatments out there.
by giving him exercises,
going to a restaurant,
where he could scan the room,
on a makeshift weapon.
in the Marine Corps,
his anxiety ratcheted down a little bit,
and then a little bit more,
how to sit in a public space
of his combat experiences,
no longer generated any anxiety.
to return to those experiences
a year after treatment had finished,
than erasing a memory.
their traumatic experiences,
or as painful as they once were.
like they just happened yesterday,
better place to be.
it may not work for everybody.
how can you help me?"
to civilian life,
somebody who's been there.
for operations on the battlefield;
that you can imagine,
where I have just felt my heart break
treatments work so well,
it puts back even more,
with his grandchildren,
with his own children.
is that after 43 years of suffering,
of intense training to get his life back.
that I have left on this Earth,
younger veterans don't wait
to have survived war
to live your life well.
to get the training you need
human suffering caused by war
yet as a species.
in our sons and in our daughters
the energy level, the value
to come back home to us.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERHector Garcia - Psychologist
Hector A. Garcia has spent his career as a frontline psychologist delivering evidence-based psychotherapies to veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Why you should listen
Hector A. Garcia is a psychologist with the Valley Coastal Bend Veterans Health Care System and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
In his work as a researcher, Garcia examines barriers to PTSD care, masculine identity and its impact on PTSD treatment-seeking, and how occupational burnout impacts PTSD care providers, who daily hear detailed accounts of trauma. As a teacher and scientist, he explores how evolutionary psychology and biology have influenced human tendencies toward violence in religion.
Garcia's groundbreaking book, Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression, reveals how human evolutionary history has left us prone to religiously inspired bloodshed. In particular, he explains how men's competition over evolutionary resources -- especially sexual primacy and territorial control -- has too often been projected onto notions of God, resulting in religious warfare, the oppression of women and ecological devastation. His regular blog on Psychology Today examines the evolutionary psychology of violence, politics, religion and our everyday lives.
Hector Garcia | Speaker | TED.com